Researcher receives USDA-funded grant to enhance tourism

For release: June 22, 2011

Ames, IOWA — An Iowa State University scholar will survey Lake Erie Wine Country visitors and business operators to assess how to enhance the overall tourism experience. Donna Quadri-Felitti, a Ph.D. candidate in hospitality management from Iowa State University (ISU), has been awarded a Sustainable Community Grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, from the North East Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NE SARE) unit for the study of Lake Erie’s wine tourism.

As a mechanism for economic development, rural wine tourism is a global phenomenon. According to “The Impact of Wine, Grapes, and Grape Production on the American Economy 2007: Family Businesses Building Value” published by MKF Research, wine tourism in the U.S. employed over 50,000 people, not counting those who grow the grapes. In Chautauqua County alone, the Chautauqua County Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates 35,000 winery visitors generated $17 million in sales in 2007.

A native of Erie, Penn., Quadri-Felitti is a clinical associate professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management located in New York City. She also is enrolled in Iowa State’s hybrid doctoral program, portions of which are taught at a distance and on the main campus in Ames, Iowa. Her dissertation research will examine how small rural businesses, like those that make up the Lake Erie tourism supply chain, can leverage the concepts of the experience economy—the business strategy made popular by authors Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore’s 1999 book “The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre & Every Business a Stage”.

Working with Quadri is Ann Marie Fiore, professor and director of graduate education in Iowa State’s Department of Apparel, Educational Studies, and Hospitality Management (AESHM) and an expert in experiential marketing design’s effect on consumer behavior. The grant will enable Quadri-Felitti to collect data during this summer, and with Fiore, design and deliver educational workshops for Lake Erie tourism businesspeople in 2012.

“Research that informs community members about how to collaborate on creating successful, sustainable rural tourism efforts is critical to rural economic development today,” Fiore said.   Support in developing Quadri’s funded project was provided by the directors of Lake Erie Wine Country (formerly the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail), Jennifer Johnson of Johnson Estate Wines, Harold and Janet Nass of Nass Day Lilly Farm, and Lake Erie Regional Grape Program’s Pennsylvania State University’s extension specialist, Kevin Martin.

Visitors can participate in the survey by going to and enter to win great Wine Country prizes.  Tourism and hospitality business operators who wish to participate may contact Quadri-Felitti at To read about this grant and other NE SARE programs, visit

Click here for the Wine Country Visitor Survey

Key contacts:   Donna Quadri-Felitti, phone 917 532-5608, email

Ann Marie Fiore, phone 515 294-9303, email


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